Bat found in Chester tests positive for rabies virus

NEW CUMBERLAND — A bat found in Chester has tested positive for the rabies virus, according to the Hancock County Health Department.

The health department announced the finding Wednesday morning. It is the second case of rabies reported in the county within the last month. On Aug. 22, the health department reported a rabies case with a raccoon near Weirton.

Health department officials urge residents to take caution when they are around wild animals, noting rabies most often is found among animals such as raccoons, skunks, foxes and bats. Cats, dogs and livestock also can get the virus if they have not been vaccinated.

Residents are advised to exercise caution is observing animals displaying unusual behavior, such as nocturnal animals out during daylight hours, those staggering when walking or showing no fear around humans.

If seeing such animals, residents are asked to contact Hancock County Dispatch at (304) 564-4100 or (304) 387-4100. In the event of an animal bite, residents should contact either Dispatch, the Health Department at (304) 564-3343 or the Hancock County Dog Warden at (304) 564-3311, ext. 292.

As a matter of safety, Health Department officials urge residents to not pick up or feed stray or wild animals, no not put out excess amounts of domestic animal food, fasten trash can lids securely and make sure dogs and cats are up-to-date on their vaccinations.

West Virginia Code requires that all dogs 6 months of age or older be licensed and vaccinated against rabies. Failure to properly vaccinate a dog or cat against rabies will result in a fine of up to $50 per animal.